The town of the Annunciation lies nestled into the hillside and normally surprises because of its present size, home now to 60,000 people half of them Christian and half of them Moslem. Nazareth has attracted Christian visitors as the place where Christ grew up and spent his first 30 years, mainly as a carpenter’s apprentice. The earliest evidence of Christian presence is in the 3rd century, the Franciscans came in 1260 some 40 years after their founder’s death, and Charles de Foucald who came here at the start of the last century to spend his life in service both here and in North Africa.
The Annunciation Basilica can be seen almost from every point in the town with its huge dome – representing an upturned lily – dominating the skyline. Standing inside the church under the dome one has the sense of a lily flower opening over the place where the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary announcing the birth of Christ. Close by is the church which commemorates the person of St Joseph containing some beautiful stained glass showing the betrothal and death of St Joseph. A short walk away is the synagogue where Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah.